Shay’s Journey to Youth Nationals
What were you doing at the age of 15? I can tell you right now I was sitting at home eating mac and cheese, watching MTV and dreaming about going on a date with this cute boy named Josh ;). I bet not too many of us can say we competed at the national level of any sport.
At the beginning of this year the Carlock family, who has been a part of the Tribe for a couple years now, asked me if I would be interested in coaching their 15 year old daughter Shay in a weightlifting meet in Bozeman, Montana. They wanted to see if she could use the meet to qualify for the Youth Nationals that would occur at the end of June. I jumped at the chance!
Shay has always moved well and shown great potential, especially in the Olympic lifts. My favorite thing to coach is the Olympic lifts so to get to coach Shay who is so incredibly talented already got me pumped! With a little bit of refinement to each lift we went to Bozeman and she easily qualified for the National meet. Then came the end of June and we were off to the Mall of America…I mean Minneapolis ;).
As soon as we got there we had to go to a “first time lifter” meet. This is where they go over how the meet was going to run and they answered any questions we might have. This year there was 606 athletes from ages 13-17 competing. While were at this meeting, with the room packed out, the gentlemen running the meeting asked us to raise our hands if we were Crossfitters… three quarters of the room raised their hands. So cool to see how many people had taken an interest in the sport of weightlifting from doing Crossfit.
Saturday was Shay’s day to lift. She had to weigh in 2 hours before her session actually started and then we just had to sit around and wait..don’t tell Shay but I think I was more nervous than her. Here is how a weightlifting meet works, so you understand my anxiety.
First up is the snatch, then a 10 minute break and you move on to the clean and jerk. You have 3 attempts in each lift and it is in kilos. We only have one set of kilo plates at the gym, so my kilo brain is not fully developed yet. Once you get in the warm up area, there are a million people in there and you usually have to share a platform with someone. Luckily we shared a platform with a really nice young lady named Ava. She had a really helpful coach with her who gave me some tips (she wasn’t in Shay’s weight class, so not our competition) and they brought her brother along to change weights so the girls could just focus on hitting their warm up lifts.
So the day before she lifted some of the other coaches we met were telling me just to be aware that in the sport of weightlifting there is a lot of “gaming”. Going into a meet of course you have an idea of the 3 weights you are going to attempt, but the day of the meet you need to allow for some wiggle room. Shay goes up to attempt her first snatch weight and nails it. So right behind the stage where she lifts is a table and a TV screen showing who’s up next, what weight they are doing and if they have missed or made attempts. So it’s like a live score board. It’s my job as her coach to know when to start warming up and with what weights so that she gets enough practice in without burning herself out. Here’s where that “gaming” comes into play and where I start to feel like I am in a stock trade room where you better make a quick decision or its game over. There was one other girl in Shay’s weight class that had close to the same opening weight as Shay, so I knew she was going to be our main competition. Right after Shay makes her lift I go to the table and tell them what weight we want on the bar next for her second attempt, she has about 2 minutes rest and misses. I head back to the table to tell them to only go up 1 kilo since her miss was so close but Mr. ReadytoGameMe coach is right over my shoulder waiting to see what I was putting on the bar so he could one up me…so I one up him right back. Now like I said I am new to coaching this sport so I didn’t want to be too greedy and have Shay try something too ambitious and I wasn’t planning on going up 3 kilos after she just missed her last one, but we went for it. She misses her last lift and the other girl takes gold in the snatch. Maybe we got a little too ambitious. Now onto the clean and jerk. This is where Shay shines so we were excited to have a chance at gold in this one.
Shay gets up and nails her first attempt. I tell Shay that no matter what weight the other girl is doing, we are just going to stick to what we know we are capable of, no gaming this round. Shay takes her second attempt and makes it. We request our third and final weight and the other coach watches to see what we do, he’s right there ready to go up by one and we just leave it. Before the clean and jerk started we decided our goal was to nail three weights, not get to greedy and risk missing multiple lifts. I mean come on, Shay was at Youth Nationals and it was only her third ever weightlifting meet! Let’s just have fun and hit lifts!
She nails her third lift and we are so excited! I just loved Shay’s attitude the whole time, so ready to do what I asked of her even when she wasn’t sure…heck, I wasn’t even sure. She ended up taking second in each lift and second for the total of her lifts. Overall it was an awesome experience for us both and has lit the fire for her to get better at the sport and for me to get better at coaching. My hope for our gym is to get more into the weightlifting scene and in the future take more athletes to events like this! I got to get better at this gaming thing too…